Despite financial and award season success, there was much criticism for the 2018 rock biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was seen as too surface-level, messy and, in some eyes, not enough for a movie promoting its queer storyline.
“Rocketman” takes everything to the next level and shows what “Bohemian Rhapsody” should have been.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher — who had to salvage “Bohemian Rhapsody” after Bryan Singer’s sudden firing — the film follows Elton John (Taron Egerton) in the early years of his success where he deals with fame, his sexuality and addiction.
The movie is a pleasant surprise. It blends biopic and musical to result in a film that is as they described: a fantasy. These music sequences are brilliant and add imagination through CGI with different unrealistic, yet fun elements. A good example is Elton John taking off like a rocket in the middle of the song “Rocketman.”
While things like that could easily take you out of the movie, it wasn’t necessarily the case here. Fletcher did exceptionally well at balancing the fantasy aspect of the movie with the grounded side of things.
The heart of the movie is in a dark but true side of the story of Elton John’s life. While he’s a superstar, his path to fame was a rocky one. Besides the obvious fact that he struggled with his sexuality in the spotlight, he had a huge problem with drugs through a good portion of his career. With Elton John producing, he made sure nothing was held back and his rough history was shown.
Egerton did especially good with showing this. The emotion he brought to the role was raw and real. The beginning of the movie where it showed his childhood was a bit slow, but as soon as Egerton comes in, the movie really picks up and starts to shine.
He did all of the singing for his role too, something that wasn’t seen from Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, as he lip-synced his way through “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You would think Egerton's voice wouldn’t compare to Elton John’s, but with the magic of vocal lessons, combined with a little tuning and editing, it was fairly impressive how good his songs were.
They also made sure his sexuality was at the forefront in many scenes of the movie, and that’s a good thing. It is a huge part of Elton John’s life, and merely skimming over it would not do him justice. Many fans said “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not "gay enough," but “Rocketman” makes sure that is not a problem.
“Rocketman” will be an awards contender this year and Egerton will be at the forefront of it. It’s a beautiful musical and a gritty biopic all in one. It’s definitely worth the watch for fans of all kinds, because there’s something in it for everyone. Elton John’s legacy has already affected millions, and this will just shine a light on how he became the man he is today.